This gorgeous tile work is part of the backsplash above my bathroom sink. It is one of things that I fell in love with when we were first looking at our condo. I hope that you’ll bear with me as I use this photo as a backdrop for a little bit more serious of a post than what I’ve been doing for most of this month.
Ra Avis over at Rarasaur blog did a post a couple of days ago that got me thinking. She chronicled a few of the things that she deals with after having suffered a series of mini strokes about a year and a half ago.
I have not suffered any mini strokes, what I deal with is minor compared to what she deals with. But I was able relate on some extremely small level.
I am Autistic. I made this discovery (that I’ve always known on some level) a little more than a year ago. I am also on several medications for extreme anxiety. The medications help to keep the anxiety at bay (for the most part) but they also do not so great things to my memory, which in itself is anxiety inducing…
Anyway, to the point of this post.
I am a creature of habit.
I figure out a routine for how to do something, and that’s how I do it forever and ever from then on… (Seriously, people will make fun of me for my routines and how precise they are) Until something forces me to change that routine.
Change throws me into chaos. I don’t know how to deal with it. Until I am able to establish a new routine I am the furthest thing from a happy camper.
If I am in the middle of a routine and someone decides to help me and things end up getting done “out of order” I become lost and angry with the person who helped me, even though I know that my anger is unfair.
If I am in the middle of a routine and I get interrupted, I can quite literally have no idea how to proceed.
Here’s a real life example that has happened to me more than once. I am in the process of getting ready to brush my teeth (that’s where the photo above ties in) and something distracts/interrupts me. I turn my attention back to trying to get the toothpaste from the tube to the toothbrush and I have no idea how to make it happen.
I brush my teeth twice a day, everyday. I know how to brush my teeth.
Except when I suddenly don’t anymore because I stopped in the middle of my routine and I don’t know how to proceed. I don’t know which hand does what, how to hold things.
I am lost, scared and confused.
I sometimes have to start over from the beginning so that muscle memory can kick in and I can proceed.
Most people don’t know that I’m Autistic. Some people would catagorize my Autism as “mild”. I hate those sort of labels. I have learned how to appear neurotypical by masking and routines, but how my Autism effects me is anything but mild.
My routines are how I pretend to be a fully functioning adult.
Without them, I am left holding a tube of toothpaste with no idea what to do next.